Welcome to my new series ‘2022 Offseason Trade Targets’ where we’ll examine several teams the Toronto Maple Leafs could be interested in doing business with this summer. From minor moves to blockbuster deals, I’ll cover them all as we dive into some potential trade options for general manager (GM) Kyle Dubas.
After coming in hot with some trade targets from the Calgary Flames, let’s stay in Alberta and showcase a couple of Edmonton Oilers who could be on the Maple Leafs’ radar this offseason.
From highly touted prospect to the coach’s doghouse, Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi has seen it all. Since being drafted fourth overall in 2016, it’s been anything but a smooth ride for the 6-foot-4 winger. From contract and playing time disputes to amazing stretches of brilliance, it’s certainly been entertaining to witness from the outside looking in.
In 2021-22 Puljujarvi appeared in 65 games during the regular season, collecting 14 goals and 36 points. He saw some time on the team’s second power-play unit and was the seventh-ranked forward in ice time, averaging 16:13 a game. From there he struggled in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, recording only three points in 16 games. His ice-time was decreased down to just over 10 minutes a night as he slipped further and further down the depth chart. The towering presence is a pending restricted free agent and recently Oilers GM Ken Holland was very candid when asked about Puljujarvi’s future in Edmonton, citing how the player lost his confidence and how the team needs to sort that out.
Enter the Toronto Maple Leafs, who would have some room for Puljujarvi on the roster, but only if they move out some money. Pending free agent Ilya Mikheyev is likely headed out of town as a team overpays for him this summer and he prices himself out of Toronto. The Leafs will have competition for the second-line left wing position and likely one of the spots on the third line. Puljujarvi’s style of play and his offensive potential make him a very interesting option for Dubas and company.
Adding Puljujarvi would be adding another young promising piece to the team’s core and considering how bad it’s going for him in Edmonton, buying low here may be one of Dubas’ smartest moves. Petr Mrazek for Puljujarvi isn’t going to get it done, however adding either a draft pick or an NHL-ready prospect with some promise could perhaps spark the Oilers’ interest.
Oilers forward Warren Foegele should be considered a trade target for the Maple Leafs if they end up losing the likes of Mikheyev and have a hard time re-signing restricted free agents Ondrej Kase and Pierre Engvall. He plays the game tough and can be a beast on the forecheck. He loves to lay the body and collected 127 hits in 82 games last season to rank third among Oilers’ forwards. There’s a bit of security with him being signed for the next two seasons, however, his $2.75 million annual salary may be a little rich for someone that only produced 12 goals and 26 points.
When Foegele chipped in for the Oilers offensively last season, it seemed to spark the entire team. He’s known as a middle-six forward who is sound defensively, but if he starts to bury his chances on a regular basis, the potential is there for him to be a staple on a team’s second line in 2022-23.
Foegele didn’t see much in terms of special teams’ minutes in 2021-22. Perhaps if he’s given a chance to be a net-front presence on the power play, there could be some untapped potential within his goal-scoring abilities. At 6-foot-2 and a willingness to play in the dirty areas, the Markham, ON native is someone who could replace Wayne Simmonds and Jason Spezza on the second unit in Toronto and give them a much different look going into next season. Yet another interesting trade option out of Edmonton, as we’ll see how much the two teams are connected this offseason.
The Oilers need goaltending and the Maple Leafs are trying to move Mrazek, so the potential of trade conversations taking place between the two GMs is quite high. Dubas would love to shift around some resources and find some more depth up front, while also re-signing all-star starter Jack Campbell. Edmonton has a couple of interesting pieces that could fit into the very complicated puzzle in Toronto.
Shane’s been a part of The Hockey Writers team since 2020, covering the Toronto Maple Leafs & Pittsburgh Penguins. A constant contributor, his versatile perspective on game results and everything off the ice produces diverse content. You can also find him on the Maple Leafs Lounge podcast with Peter Baracchini and Alex Hobson. Follow along on Twitter @ShugMcSween